Larejo is a mid-stakes tournament mastermind who specializes in outmaneuvering 150-max players with a small number of entries
*COVID, COVID, COVID* we’ll try to get updates in here before Sunday if necessary
Welcome to Week 15. The week where the NFL says, “we don’t care about COVID-19” and plays games anyway, because . . . revenue. I’m surprised these games seem like they will kick off at the moment on Saturday and Sunday, but this late in the season I guess it’s a limp to the finish, and hopefully all of those who are testing positive for COVID-19 won’t have serious cases and will be back on the field soon. If the games do move forward, we’ll have plenty of backup, third-string, and practice squad players to pick on, so this is a week where Sunday morning will be critical in setting rosters. Don’t overreact but do react to whatever news trickles in on Sunday.
At first glance, we have a similar setup to last week when we have a handful of large spreads and many teams projecting to score under 20 points. With this information, we have to assess where we feel point totals will land as it’s likely there will be some close games between two teams that are set for a blowout, and identifying the right game environments will continue to be a staple of DFS success. As we get later into the season, the obvious spots become more obvious, so we should be thinking about attacking those spots differently than the field, to set ourselves up for first-place finishes.
Build lineups like nobody is watching this week.
It’s Week 15 and we’re talking up a game with a 43.5 game total. You have to love this stuff. We often talk about how to play “what if” games in order to build lineups that can compete for first place. This game presents a few interesting scenarios in that category. First, we know the Titans want to run the ball and we know the Steelers have been terrible at stopping the run lately. Their last showing was in primetime when Dalvin Cook ran all over them, so expect heavier ownership than there should be on the Titans running backs in this game. From my standpoint, their backfield is a stay away as all three of D’Onta Foreman, Dontrell Hilliard, and Jeremy McNichols should see work. But with the Titans running game as the position likeliest to carry high ownership in this game, we have identified our leverage point.
So, how can we build for first-place rosters in a game with only a 43-point total? Well, to build for first place we have to consider how to set up our rosters to not only gain points but also take down others in the same move. With some ownership on the cheap running backs expected (mainly Foreman), Julio Jones becomes our first primary play. His role is locked in as the number one WR for TEN, he’s one more week removed from his lingering hamstring injury, and the best yet is how excited many were last week to roster him at under $6K until he posted only 4/33/0 on six targets. However, what many may overlook is the fact that the Titans only threw the ball out of necessity in the second half of their dominant win last week against Jacksonville, and Julio found himself on the sidelines for much of the fourth quarter as he was not needed. Fast forward to this week’s matchup, and it would not surprise me to see Julio pick up around eight to ten targets. I’ll remind you this is against a Pittsburgh defense that was gashed by Cook on the ground, but also by Justin Jefferson in the air last week, and they’ve given up 36+ points in three of their last four games.
On the Pittsburgh side, they’ve seemed to really put up points in negative game scripts lately but their DFS-goodness is inflated by their short-area throws. Receptions pile up points for their pass catchers, and they are going up against a Tennessee defense facing the fourth-highest pass rate this season. With the condensity Pittsburgh shows on offense, mostly flowing through a near 100% snap rate Najee Harris, plus Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and Pat Freiermuth, if they could get to 24+ points in the three to four score range, it could pay nice dividends. If we attack similarly to the Titans, his price is at a premium, but I think we can say the most ownership here will be on Diontae Johnson, considering his recent performances. He’s our lever on the Steelers. I think it’s lazy to say, okay, then we just take Claypool, but if we combine Najee and Claypool, we get rosters that take down any Diontae rosters, while also catapulting their rosters up the leaderboards on Sunday. I don’t have a problem rostering Ben along with these guys of course but may just do a three-man game stack myself.
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